My Bible First - Lesson 18


Jesus, the Friend of Sinners

Based on Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 7:11-17; 10:25-37; 19:1-10; John 4

 If you had been traveling on a certain road through Samaria one day, you would have seen Jesus sitting beside a well. The well was called Jacob’s Well, because Jacob had dug it many years before. It was near the gate of a city that belonged to the Samaritans.

Jesus was tired, hungry, and very thirsty. While the disciples went into the city to buy some food, Jesus thought about the water in the well. But He didn’t have a rope or a bucket to get some. John 4:3-6.

While He was waiting, a Samaritan woman came from the town to get some water from the well. When Jesus politely asked her for a drink, she was shocked. Why? Because the Samaritans and Jews didn’t like each other, and she could tell that Jesus was a Jew. Even though Jews and Samaritans did business with each other when they needed to, they never asked a favor from each other.  John 4:7-9.

As Jesus and the Samaritan woman kept talking, He told her about the “living water” that He could give her. He even told her things about her past life that made her think that He was a prophet. Then they talked about where and how to worship God. Finally, the woman said she knew that the Messiah would come, and that He would tell them everything. Can you imagine how surprised she was when Jesus told her that He was the Messiah? John 4:25, 26.

At once, the woman knew in her heart that Jesus really was the Messiah; and all she could think about was rushing back to the city to tell everyone. She forgot to give Jesus the drink of water He wanted, and she even left her water pot at the well. What did the people in the city do? John 4:28-30.

Just as the woman hurried back to the city, the disciples arrived, bringing the food they had bought. They were puzzled when they saw Jesus, a Jew, talking to a Samaritan woman. After she left, what did Jesus say when they urged Him to eat? John 4:27, 31-34.

 That day the disciples learned that Jesus truly loves everyone. And when someone chooses to love and obey Him, that person, like the Samaritan woman, becomes a missionary for Him, too. John 4:39-42.

The woman who talked to Jesus beside Jacob’s Well believed in God, even though she wasn’t a Jew. Our story today is about a heathen woman who worshiped idols, but she had heard about Jesus. Oh, how much she wanted Him to help her poor daughter! When she heard that Jesus was coming near to where she lived, she hurried to find Him. Matthew 15:21, 22.

It wasn’t easy for the disciples to learn to love everyone like Jesus does. Jesus knew that they wouldn’t want to even touch this heathen woman, or think of trying to help her. So He decided to show them the difference between what they would have done and the kind of love that He wanted them to learn to have for everyone.

At first, Jesus acted as if He wasn’t going to pay any attention to the poor woman. That is what the disciples would have done. Then what did Jesus say to the woman? Matthew 15:23, 24.

That was like telling her that His work was to help only the Jews. And when the woman kept on begging Jesus to help her daughter, He still acted like the disciples would have acted—as if the Jews were God’s children, and other people were no more important than animals. Matthew 15:25, 26.

That poor, heathen woman could have felt hurt and discouraged; but somehow, she knew that Jesus didn’t really mean the words He was saying. What did she tell Him? Matthew 15:27, 28.

How wonderful to know that Jesus loves everyone! Do you think that the disciples were surprised at what He did for that heathen woman? He did it to help her, and he was also teaching His disciples to love everyone. Do you think He wants us to learn to love everyone, too?

One day a very worried father came a long way to see Jesus. His precious son was very sick; and even though the doctors had done everything possible to make him well, he just got worse and worse. Now he was dying.

The father was an important officer who worked for the king. He had heard about the wonderful miracles Jesus did; and when someone told him that Jesus was in a city several miles away, he hurried to find Him. He thought that perhaps Jesus would come and heal his son. John 4:46, 47.

 When the father saw Jesus, he was surprised that he looked and dressed like any ordinary man. He wondered if Jesus were really the Messiah; and he decided that if Jesus healed his son, then he would believe in Him.

As the nobleman begged Jesus to go with him to heal his son, he didn’t know that Jesus knew what he was thinking. What did Jesus say that made him realize that Jesus did know what he was thinking? John 4:48.

Right then and there, the nobleman chose to believe in Jesus. How pleased Jesus must have been! And how thrilled the father was by what Jesus said next!  John 4:49, 50.

The nobleman was so sure that Jesus had truly healed his son that he didn’t even hurry to get back home. Who met him before he got there?  John 4:51, 52.

It was the seventh hour when his son was healed—the exact time when Jesus had said, “Your son lives.” When the nobleman got home, he told his family about what had happened. How do you suppose the family felt? John 4:53.

Jesus loves every one of us, whether we are rich or poor. He only wants us to trust Him and believe in Him, like the nobleman did. What a wonderful, powerful friend Jesus is!

One day Jesus was walking with His disciples and a crowd of people toward a village called Nain. He often stopped to help people, and the crowd grew larger.

When they got close to the village, they saw people coming slowly from the gate on their way to bury a dead man. The people with Jesus became very quiet as they watched the sad people coming toward them. They soon found out that the man who had died was the only son of a poor widow. His sad mother was weeping as she followed the open coffin of her dead son. How lonely and helpless she felt! Now, she had no one to be with her and take care of her. Luke 7:12.

Jesus felt sorry for the poor widow, and He stepped over beside her. She must have quickly wiped her tear-filled eyes as she looked to see who was speaking to her in a gentle, kind voice. Luke 7:13.

The people were quiet as they watched Jesus. Then they heard Him speak to the dead person. What did He say, and what happened? Luke 7:14, 15.

How exciting! The poor widow’s tears of sorrow and sadness turned to tears of joy as she and her son, who was now strong and healthy, hugged each other. Everyone praised God as they went back to the village. They couldn’t wait to tell others about the wonderful miracle that Jesus had done that day. Luke 7:16, 17.

Jesus did His miracles through the power of God, His Father. He was helping us to understand how loving, kind, and powerful God the Father is.

It was hard for Jesus’ disciples to learn that He truly loves everyone. They had been taught that people who weren’t Jews couldn’t be in His kingdom. And they thought that some Jews were such terrible sinners that God wouldn’t let them be there, either. That included Jewish tax collectors who were called publicans. Tax collectors were rich, because they sometimes cheated people by making them pay more tax money than they were supposed to pay. 

There was a Jew named Zacchaeus who lived in Jericho, and he was a tax collector. People hated him.   
Luke 19:1, 2; 3:12, 13.

When Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was going through Jericho, he rushed to see this wonderful Person that he had heard so much about. But Zacchaeus was short, and no one would let him through the crowd that was all around Jesus as He moved slowly along the road. So Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a tree so he could see. As Jesus passed right under the tree where Zacchaeus was perched, what happened? Luke 19:3-6.

People were shocked to think that Jesus would go to the home of a tax collector. They started telling each other how bad that was. Then, right there in front of that big crowd, Zacchaeus told Jesus that he had stopped cheating, and that he was giving back the extra money that he had made people pay him.

What did Jesus say about that? Luke 19:9, 10.

Most of those people were sure that Zacchaeus was such a bad sinner that he could never be in God’s kingdom. They didn’t know that because they were proud, they were worse sinners than Zacchaeus. Because they thought they were not sinners, they didn’t think they needed Jesus.

It is easy to forget that every one of us has sinned. We would all be lost if it weren’t for Jesus coming to die in our place. He has made it possible for us to obey Him if we love Him and ask Him to help us. We should never think that we are better than other sinners.

One day as Jesus was talking to a large crowd of people, what question did a lawyer asked Him? What question did Jesus ask the lawyer? and what was the lawyer’s answer? Luke 10:25-27.

When Jesus told him that his answer was right, what did the lawyer ask next? Luke 10:28, 29.

The lawyer’s last question, “Who is my neighbor?” was also asked by many Jews. They thought that Samaritans and heathen people were not their neighbors, and they didn’t want to think of Jewish tax collectors as their neighbors, either. But what about all the other Jews?

The priests and rulers had made up rules so they wouldn’t have to treat many of the other Jews as their neighbors. But long before that time, God had told His people how to treat others. Read about it in Leviticus 19:33, 34.

Jesus had already shown by the way He helped people that everyone was His neighbor. But to answer the lawyer’s question, and to help the many people who were listening, He told them an interesting story. Read it in Luke 10:30-35.

When Jesus finished telling the story, what did He ask the lawyer, and how did the lawyer answer Him?  Luke 10:36, 37.

If the man whom the robbers attacked had been a Samaritan, he might not have received help. But even though the kind Samaritan knew that, he still helped the wounded Jew. The leaders were sometimes unkind to people in their own nation. They didn’t like tax collectors, and they didn’t take care of some sick and poor people like they should have. They were sure that God loved the rich more than the poor, and that people like the blind or lame were that way because God was punishing them for their sins. How sad!

Do you think that this story of the kind Samaritan helped the people who heard it that day? Does it help you understand who your neighbors are?